Saluting the winners: Laudrup the legend, mighty Ajax and … Naughty Nicklas

Despite success in England and the Netherlands, many of the country’s internationals have struggled to assert themselves this season

For football fans across Europe, that traditional period of emptiness, a summer without a major football championship, is fast approaching. With several of the top leagues across the continent closing this weekend, including the English Premier League, Italy’s Serie A and the Dutch Eredivisie, it is time to cast a look back at the season and assess how some of the Danes across the world have performed.

Ajax’s mighty six-pack

Dutch champions are currently dominated by Danish players. With six on its books, four of whom are under the age of 22, the club boasts the largest roster of Danish footballers outside Denmark.

Despite the emergence of Viktor Fischer this year, the cream of the crop remains 21-year-old attacking midfielder Christian Eriksen. Voted the second best player in the Eredivisie by his peers this season, he scored eleven goals in all competitions and made 17 assists. Heading into the summer, he still hasn’t penned a new deal with Ajax, fuelling speculation that we will see Eriksen in different colours next season.

Holding midfielder Lasse Schöne, 26, is also an established first team player. He slotted seven league goals, making him the club’s fourth highest scorer, keeping his more experienced countryman Christian Poulsen, 33, mostly on the bench. Nevertheless, the season has been a satisfactory one for a player whose career had nosedived with disappointing stints at Liverpool and French club Evian. “I used to hear people ask: ‘Can he still perform at the top level?’” he told His answer this season has been a resounding yes.

And finally, Viktor Fischer, one of the game’s hottest prospects, has set the league alight this season since making his debut in October, scoring an impressive eleven goals from 19 starts to become Ajax’s second highest goal scorer behind captain Siem de Jong.  Still just 18, he is highly rated by coach Frank de Boer, who told Eredivision Live that Fischer “has the qualities to become a major player”.

Ajax’s two other Danish players are fringe midfielder Lucas Andersen, 18, and left back Nicolai Boilesen, 21, who has been mostly side-lined due to injury.

Well chuffed in Wales

The most successful Dane in the English Premier League this season is not a player, but manager Michael Laudrup. His first season at Swansea City brought the Welsh club its first ever major trophy thanks to a 5-0 defeat of Bradford City in the League Cup Final – a result that guarantees the club a Europe League spot next season. Coupled together with a stable performance in the league, Laudrup was an early favourite for the LMA Manager of the Year award, but will probably now miss out in the wake of Alex Ferguson’s retirement.  

Daniel Agger, 28, can hold his head up high after another creditable performance in defence for Liverpool. With Jamie Carragher retiring at the end of the season, Agger will become the club’s most senior defender next season.

But it was a disappointing season for Danish goalkeepers in the EPL. Thomas Sørensen at Stoke City and Anders Lindegaard at Manchester United both lost their fights for the keeper’s jersey and spent the season bench-warming. Sørensen played just four cup games all season, while Lindegaard played nine times in all competitions, including a performance against lowly Reading last December in which he leaked three goals.

Kvist loses the gist

Midfielder William Kvist has been transfer-listed after losing his place at VFB Stuttgart. He has not been in the first eleven since mid-March and looks unlikely to play any part in the DFB Pokal Final against Bayern Munich on June 1. It’s a far cry from last season when he was named one of the Bundesliga buys of the season as he helped Stuttgart finish sixth, five places above its current position.

Following a successful two-year stint with Belgian outfit Club Brugge, midfielder Niki Zimling made a January switch to Bundesliga club Mainz 05. He quickly established himself at his new club and has been involved in every game bar three since his move.

Midfielder Leon Andreasen’s career has been plagued by injuries, and his season for Hannover 96 has been no different, ending early after he ruptured his cruciate ligament in late September.

Defender Simon Kjær managed to reclaim his spot in the heart of the VFL Wolfsburg defence, which he lost following a spat with coach Felix Magath two seasons ago. Kjær has played a big part in the club’s stable season, playing 22 games and managing two goals as the side finished mid-table.

The winner who can’t score

There are four Danish players plying their trade in Italy, but you wouldn’t know that as a casual observer as three of them are fringe players at their clubs.

Striker Nicklas Bendtner, surprisingly loaned out to Serie A champions Juventus at the start of the season, has not scored a league goal for over a year. He played just eight games for his new Italian club. An injury had ruled him out for the rest of the season before his drink driving shame in central Copenhagen, although he did play enough to win a Serie A winner’s medal.

Defenders Per Krøldrup and Simon Poulsen have barely played any football for their respective clubs. Krøldrup joined Pescara in March, but suffered an injury soon afterwards and had to watch from the sidelines as his new club was relegated. Poulsen, in contrast, has been in juryfree for most of the season at Sampdoria, but he just can’t get in the team.

Which leaves Bologna defender Frederik Sørensen, 21, as the only Dane, with 24 starts, to have made an impression in Italy.

Best of the Rest

Winger Michael Krohn-Dehli has enjoyed a great first season at Celta Vigo, even if his new club has disappointed in La Liga and is in serious danger of being relegated. Since joining from Superliga outfit Brøndby last summer, he has played 35 times for the club, scoring two goals and laying on six assists.

Stephan Andersen is another Danish keeper who has lost his first team place, and he is expected to leave French Ligue 1 club Evian in the summer.

Relatively unknown manager Kim Poulsen has made a stellar start after taking over the reins of African nation Tanzania. Tanzania, ranked 116 in the world now, have beaten Morocco and Gambia in their 2014 World Cup qualification group and find themselves sitting second in their group, one point behind Ivory Coast.

Jakob Poulsen won promotion with French side AS Monaco who finished first in Ligue 2. The midfielder, who has only seen a sparse amount of playing time during his first season in France, has been unhappy spending much of his time on the bench and is likely to move on this summer.

Mikkel Beckmann won the league in Cyprus earlier this month with his club APOEL Nicosia. The attacking midfielder, who scored a cracking free kick for former club FC Nordsjælland against Juventus in the Champions League late in 2012, said that he was enjoying his stint on the island.

Goalkeeper Casper Ankergren just lost out on a playoff spot at Wembley after his Brighton side lost 0-2 on aggregate to Crystal Palace in the semi-finals of the Championship play-offs. Ankergren did not take part in either game.

Thomas Christensen – the former Spanish/Danish striker who once scored goals for Barcelona, Bochum and Hannover 96 – has moved to Abu Dhabi to become assistant coach for Al-Jazira. Christensen will back up manager Luis Milla, the former Spanish star.

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